12 Angry Films

There’s a mutating meme coursing across the interweb — bloggers challenging each other to name twelve films they haven’t seen. The task varies from blog to blog, sometimes amounting to a confession of what well-known or important movies the author hasn’t caught up with, sometimes tending towards a list of extreme rarities that nobody can find.

I think both lists have value. Maybe somebody out there will be able to help me out with the films I want to get my mitts on. And maybe naming the films I haven’t seen will shame me into watching them. I also like the Self-Styled Siren’s approach, which involves listing twelve films in her collection which she hasn’t gotten around to running yet (including LA FIN DU JOUR!).

So my first list will be twelve rare films that I went to considerable effort to get, then didn’t watch.

1. THE POWER AND THE GLORY. An early Preston Sturges screenplay. Looked for this for AGES, finally got it a couple months ago. Haven’t even peeked at it. What a maroon!

2. Early Hitchcock. I’ve seen most of the thrillers, but odd things like RICH AND STRANGE are sitting neglected. Nice quality, from the recent box set of early Hitch… I’m contemplating spending a whole week running all the Hitch I haven’t seen. Yep, I’m CONTEMPLATING it…

3. Murnau’s TARTUFFE. Bought the Kino edition from America. I keep putting it on, then getting distracted. It may not be major Murnau, but it certainly has inspired bits (I love the style of the modern framing story more than the actual Moliere adaptation), and if I watched it properly who knows what I’d get out of it?

4. Michael Powell’s quota quickies. A fascinating glimpse into the creative process: watch Powell slowly spread his wings and try things out and gain confidence, on threadbare budgets and schedules so brief the Kleig lights barely have time to warm up. I have a number of these, all more or less unwatched. Let CROWN VS STEVENS stand for them all.

5. UN REVENANT. A fog-bound Parisian gangster film in the poetic realist vein, directed by Christian-Jaque and starring the mighty Louis Jouvet. I paid good money for a fine copy of this. So why haven’t I watched it, two years later? BECAUSE I AM AN ARSE.

6. Resnais’s MURIEL. Got very excited about seeing this, bought it, watched ten minutes, was intrigued, got interrupted, never went back. I’m dreadful. A failure as a man, and as an assemblage of molecules.

7. LES ORGEILLEUX. Gerard Philipe gives an astonishing performance (I peeked) in Yves Allegret and Rafael E Portas’ sensational drama. An unusually articulate IMDb reviewer calls it “one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen”. It may be one of the greatest films I haven’t seen. How would I know?

8. THE HUMAN CONDITION. Masaki Kobayashi’s nine-hour three-film extravaganza, released by Criterion but now out of print. Miraculously got a copy via Mark Cousins, then failed to watch it. Kobayashi is one Fiona’s very favourite filmmakers, but I think the phrase “nine hours” is putting her off.

9. MARILYN. Wolf Rilla (VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED) directs this British B-movie answer to THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE. Got a surprise TV airing this year, I recorded it. Then kind of set it to one side. We met Wolf Rilla’s son once, Nico Rilla. He recommended a Rilla movie with a terrific title: THE WORLD TEN TIMES OVER.

10. THE HONEYMOON KILLERS. Perfectly nice pre-record boxed DVD of this lying on the living room floor amid a heap. And yes, I know Scorsese directed part of it, I know the story behind his firing, and I was able to use that information to work out which bits he directed. And I’ve watched those bits. But I need to watch the whole thing!

11. LE TROU. I have this Jacques Becker crime yarn in a beautiful Criterion Collection edition, (and TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI too). I loan it to people. They watch it. I don’t. And yet I liked CASQUE D’OR quite a bit.

12. UNDERWORLD BEAUTY. I do like a Seijun Suzuki yakuza flick. I’ve watched BRANDED TO KILL numerous times (I still get utterly confused). And yet this one remains unwatched. I am an idiot!

Of course, I’ve barely scratched the surface…

20 Responses to “12 Angry Films”

  1. I got LE TROU from you, funnily enough; watched it and loved it.

    >Kobayashi is one Fiona’s very favourite filmmakers, but I think the phrase “nine hours” is putting her off.

    Fiona seemed slightly perplexed that I was watching BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ, in its entirely, at the last Edinburgh fest I attended. Mind you, I could top that with Rivette’s masterpiece OUT 1: NOLI ME TANGERE during the London premiere… or, for a more hardcore experience (as both those are divided into episodes), how about all 8 hours of Warhol’s one image flick, EMPIRE! (I did indeed start to hallucinate, which was probably better than the film).

    But! How about this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0284020/

  2. One film I long avoided seeing until recently was Clockwork Orange which I saw for the first time yesterday. I found it a very irritating experience. With the standard simpleminded use of classical music one expects from Kubrick(I lost track how many times he repeated the same piece from Rossini’s ”La gazza ladra”), the tacky visual ugliness and bad lighting a new one and the very bad tracking shots. The story was preachy and it had some good concepts in it but Kubrick didn’t go after it.

    Other films that I haven’t yet seen but would want to see but have never done so include

    Minnelli’s ”The Clock”, ”The Cobweb”, ”Bells Are Ringing”. All 3 are major Minnelli I am told.

    Wenders’ ”Alice in the Cities”.

    R. W. Fassbinder’s ”Berlin Alexanderplatz”(I saw bits of the first episode once but that’s it…) and ”Querelle le Brest”.

    Godard’s ”Le Gai Savoir”.

    Truffaut’s ”Une Belle Fille comme moi” and ”L’homme qui aimait les femmes”.

    Michael Powell’s ”Oh Rosalinda” and all his post Peeping Tom films.

  3. Good grief! Muriel is so great as to transcend mere “masterpiece” status! Drop everything and watch it once. Then watch it again. And again.

    It’s Delphine Seyrig at her most sublime. Jean-Baptiste Thieree gave up acting to invent a magician/clow/dancer act which he performs with his wife Josephine Chaplin and their children. You can see an excerpt from it in Fellini’s The Clowns.

  4. Oh…Rosalinda! is the apotheosis of the kitsch element in Powell & Pressburger’s films. I like it a lot. Honeymoon, made right before Peeping Tom, is the film that REALLY killed his career. Some very interesting things in it, and some gigantic errors.

    The two Truffauts you list are defintely minor.

    The Wenders, Godard, Fassbinder and Minnelli are films I intend to watch at some point, but there’s a slight sense of duty to it.

    Am interested by what you mean by “very bad tracking shots” in Clockwork Orange, Arthur. Things like the combined zoom and track that opens the film are at the least technically difficult and well-achieved. There is a kind of deliberate ugliness to the film’s use of 70s modernity… but I find it perversely attractive at times.

    I think with The Cure For Insomnia, the title turns it into a sort of joke that makes me less interested in seeing it. I find my 15 minute meditation sessions rather strenuously dull, so I doubt I could manage the Warhol.

  5. Raymond Durgnat noted of Oh! Rosalinda! “Michael Redgrave has more dnacing to do than Ludmilla Tcherina.”

  6. A case in point is the tracking shot in the record store where he meets those two girls. The camera circles the entire store but absolutely no sense of emotion, idea or movement and of space is conveyed. Then near the end there’s this reverse tracking shot of a nurse carrying a trolley straight into Alex’s room. Another one is the long take of those two cops dragging Alex out into the woods to beat him up, the camera stays behind them and then follows them lamely. For a director who is a “perfectionist”, that’s fairly slipshod. I like Kubrick by large. My favourites being ”Lolita” and ”Barry Lyndon” and all his pre ACO work but this film was a huge disappointment as is ”The Shining”.

    ACO was made in the late 60s and to me at least there is a fair bit of borrowing from 60’s films like ”Blow Up” or ”Petulia” as far as it’s design is concerned. Kubrick made that film really fast and I think he made it more to make the film or keep working. He was really obsessed with Napolean at that time and that eventually led to his very next film made five years later – ”Barry Lyndon”.

    Oh and ”Muriel” is great. Perhaps Resnais’ best and a very important French film in that it says a lot about France and French society. One Resnais blind spot for me is ”Je t’aime, Jet t’aime” which I hope to see in the following month.

  7. MovieFanatic Says:

    I like this concept. I will have to go back & compile some lists. One I can post(even though it’s technically a tv mini) is The Decalogue. I purchased it a few years ago & have yet to even open it. Pitiful.

    The Human Condition. I need to get with you on that one….

  8. God, I loved The Human Condition. I was weeping at the end of it. Did Criterion put that out? I don’t remember that. Le Trou is great, too. I need to see more Becker. The stuff that’s available is crack, pure and simple.

    Underworld Beauty is a gas. I loves me some Suzuki.

    Oh. I got the package. Many thanks.

  9. Funny you bought the American “Tartuffe”. I bought the British MoC release. Good stuff, found the dvd-extra doc more illuminating than the movie itself.

    It’d take me all day to list unwatched downloaded/copied/rented/borrowed movies, but here are twelve I bought with real money and still haven’t watched:

    Fantomas (I’m two episodes in)
    Renoir box set with Nana, Elusive Corporal, more
    Murnau’s Phantom
    An ugly public-domain box of early Hitchcocks
    Frank Capra’s Why We Fight
    Sunset Blvd.
    The Reckless Moment and Madame De…
    The Lower Depths (Kurosawa)
    The Bellboy and four or five others by Jerry Lewis
    Dog Star Man
    Six or seven by Herzog incl. Fitzcarraldo
    Fanny and Alexander

    Yep, taking things at my own pace… lately it has seemed incredibly vital to watch everything by Chris Marker and the sequel to Japanese horror “Suicide Circle”, while Sunset Blvd. sits unwatched on the shelf.

  10. Think it’s mostly lengthy stuff I’ve not gotten round to watching yet:

    LA COMMUNE (PARIS, 1871) (Watkins)
    LA ROUE (Gance)
    LUDWIG (Visconti)
    CHUNG KUO CINA (Antonioni)
    CONFESSIONS (Sokurov)

    …Well, those and at least two giant folders with discs in, numerous vhs tapes and a number of xvids (got Rivette’s PONT DU NORD recently). Can never get bored by lacking unseen material.

  11. La Commune (de Paris, 1971) is the greatest political film ever made.

    Gance’s La Roue is marvelous. It’s female lead — Ivy Close — was the mother of director Ronald Neame — who is fast approaching the century mark and is as fit as the proverbial fiddle.

  12. I love Le Trou, sort of like a post-war Man Escaped, though rather more complex in the reaction to the possibility of freedom and male companionship versus authority.

    When you do watch it, pay close attention in the pre-credit sequence when Jean Keraudy leaves the car he is working on to address the camera about the way he endorses his “friend Jacque Becker’s” take on Sante prison. His cool demeanour is slightly undermined by accidentally bashing his head on the bonnet of the car as he stands up!

    Though it does add to the verisimilitude of that sequence!

    I’m afraid I’ve had the same problem with Tartuffe. I’ve got through it a couple of times but I couldn’t tell you anything about it. I’ll have to give it another go some time.

    I’ve similarly got Underworld Beauty, the early Hitchcocks and The Honeymoon Killers to get to. Probably my list of not yet watched films within my grasp at this very moment would include Satantango, Berlin Alexanderplatz, the Heimat series, the Raymond Bernard Les Miserables, that recent Prisoner box set, Pandora’s Box, Edvard Munch, Fantomas and Les Vampires and every Gilliam film from Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas on. There’s just not enough hours in the day, though that’s part of what is wonderful about having enough material to pick and choose from!

    My list of titles I haven’t seen and would like to is enormous and constantly being added to. I’d like to hear your particular searched for films.

  13. By the way did you see that on BBC4 on Sunday they are showing five episodes of the old Monitor arts show – Henry Moore At Home, Larkin and Betjeman, two film programmes where Huw Wheldon talks with Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock and finally Ken Russell’s Pop Goes The Easel.

  14. Just going to chip in here and say…my God man, you still haven’t watched Le Trou? You will adore it. Watch it now! I know you’re home in front of a roaring fireplace! If that’s not enough incentive, break out the Jaffa Cakes.

  15. The fireplace isn’t yet roaring — maybe in a coupel weeks. I’m bumping La Trou up the list for a cold night.

    Looking at all these lists, the long stuff tends to be prominent among the problem films. A lesson for screenwriters…

    Will make sure and catch those arts shows on BBC4, esp the Russell.

    Brandon: while Susnet Blvd is obviously a great experience waiting for you, the Ophuls films are conceivablt GREATER. And add La Ronde and Le Plaisir and Lola Montes if you haven’t already had le plaisir.

    And yeah, I haven’t done the Decalogue either. I kind of missed the boat with Kieslowski. Then he announced he was retiring and I thought “Ah, now I can catch up!” Then he changed his mind. Then he died, and I was confused.

    But I have seen the colours trilogy, and Double Life and Blind Chance.

  16. And he’s still making films from beyond the grave if you count Heaven and Hell! (are they still going to do Purgatory?)

  17. I would like to see La Commune as well but it has to be in a proper screening I coudn’t bear to see something on DVD…

    Saw Fragments: Jersusalem at EIFF and that was at least a whole day… about 4 survivors at the end but fantastic!

  18. I think they may have decided that the Tykwer film inadvertently WAS Purgatory.

    Must see more Watkins, I love what I’ve seen.

    Christianne, I fully expect to be blown away by The Human Condition. Seppuku/Hara-Kiri is incredibly strong. He’s a very forthright filmmaker, there’s no pretence or softening of affect.

  19. Seen the Ophuls you mentioned (loved two to death but didn’t get much plaisir from “Le Plaisir” for some reason). Thought about mentioning “Letter From an Unknown Woman” in connection with what I said above about “Tartuffe”, so I’ll go ahead and mention it now. Both movies I watched on DVD, thought “eh, that was alright but nothing special”, then watched the dvd-extra doc on the disc which did a great job illustrating that it WAS something special. That’d be the British releases of both… can’t vouch for the American ones.

    All this listmaking is inspiring… tonight when my girl is watching her shows in the other room I’m gonna scratch a title off the list. Of course, then I’ll just replace it with “Holy Mountain”… you can never win.

  20. It may help that I saw Le Plaisir on the big screen for the first time: when Jean Servais narrates over a black screen, as Maupassant, and says he’d like to speak to us in the dark as if he was sitting next to us, I got goosebumps.

    That one has some awesome extras.

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